Employer Law Report

Tag Archives: FLSA

DOL increases salary threshold for white collar exemptions to $35,568

After more than 15 years, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is updating the overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA entitles most employees to minimum wage and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. However, employees who meet the salary threshold and the relevant duties test qualify for the executive, administrative, professional exemption (white collar exemption), and are not entitled to overtime pay. On Sept.24, 2019, the DOL issued a news release announcing its final rule regarding overtime regulations.

Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the new salary threshold for white collar exemptions …

DOL seeks to limit joint employer liability for wage and hour claims

On April 1, 2019, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to narrow the definition of a “joint employer” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Because joint employers are jointly and severally liable for wage and hour claims brought under the FLSA, the change could have a significant impact on wage and hour litigation as we know it, offering franchisers and businesses that hire workers through staffing firms a shield from liability for some minimum wage and overtime pay violations.

Proposed regulation

Image depicting stack of wage and hour claims

Part 791 of Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains the DOL’s

Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act: Are you ready?

Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA) goes into effect on March 29, 2019. It requires a number of new practices for employers operating in Michigan, including revision of written policies and posting notice to employees. Below are some highlights of the PMLA about which employers in Michigan should be aware:

Who does the law cover?

Employers covered by the PMLA are those that employ 50 or more persons. What is unclear is whether an employer’s employees who work outside of Michigan would count for purposes of determining whether the employer is covered by the PMLA. Unless the sate provides clarity …

U.S. Department of Labor issues new opinion letters covering FMLA and FLSA issues

On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) announced the issuance of six new opinion letters covering a variety of issues under the FMLA and FLSA. Specifically, the opinion letters address the following issues:

  • “No-fault” attendance policies and roll-off of attendance points under the FMLA
  • Organ donors’ qualification for FMLA leave
  • Compensability of time spent voluntarily attending benefit fairs and certain wellness activities
  • Application of the commissioned sales employee overtime exemption to a company that sells an internet payment software platform
  • Application of the movie theater overtime exemption to a movie theater that

Sixth Circuit upholds agreement to arbitrate FLSA claims on individual basis

On Aug. 15, 2018, the Sixth Circuit in Gaffers v. Kelly Services, Inc. held that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not render an arbitration agreement that requires claims to be brought individually illegal and unenforceable. Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which held that a federal statute does not displace the Arbitration Act unless it includes a “clear and manifest” congressional intent to make individual arbitration agreements unenforceable, the court rejected the plaintiff’s arguments that FLSA displaced the Federal Arbitration Act simply by providing for a right to “collective action.” Instead, the …

New DOL opinion letter may provide clarity as to when FMLA-mandated breaks are paid and when they are unpaid

As we previously reported in the post “The return of Department of Labor Opinion Letters,” the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) began issuing opinion letters again in mid-2017 after a six-plus-year hiatus. On April 12, 2018, the DOL issued an opinion letter, FLSA 2018-19, regarding when FMLA-mandated breaks for intermittent leave for an employee’s serious health condition are paid and when they are unpaid.…

New test should increase employer ability to create unpaid internship positions

Many employers allow students to intern in their workplaces so that the students can gain exposure to real world work, learn about a particular industry or career, or earn credit hours towards their degree requirements. If these interns are unpaid, however, employers risk liability for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers that enter into these arrangements without careful consideration of the FLSA risk lawsuits from former interns and United States Department of Labor (DOL) investigations.…

Recent Supreme Court decision holds that FLSA exemptions are to be construed fairly

Many thanks to Arslan Sheikh for his assistance in preparing this post.

In a decision issued on April 2, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States held in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro that service advisors at an auto dealership are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) overtime pay requirement. Most importantly, the Court also rejected the 9th Circuit’s holding and Department of Labor policy that FLSA exemptions should be construed narrowly. Instead, courts should apply a fairness test to determine whether a particular job is covered under the exempt classifications of the act. As a result, …

Wage and Hour Division announces pilot limited “amnesty” program

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced a new nationwide pilot program, called the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, which is designed to facilitate resolution of potential overtime and minimum wage violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the WHD’s website describing the program, the program’s primary objectives are to resolve wage and hour claims expeditiously and without litigation, to improve employers’ compliance with overtime and minimum wage obligations and to ensure that more employees promptly receive any owed back wages.

WHD states that it will implement this pilot program …

Paying workers after inclement weather closes businesses

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, many employers have questioned their obligation to pay employees while their businesses have been closed. The answer will be different for employees who are exempt and non-exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA, employees who are exempt from overtime requirements must receive their full salary for any week in which the employees perform work, regardless of the number of days or number of hours of work performed in that week. Thus, if an exempt employee only works one day during the week, he or she is still entitled to …

The return of Department of Labor Opinion Letters

On June 27, 2017 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced it would reinstate the practice of issuing Opinion Letters. The Wage and Hour Division will once again use Opinion Letters to provide guidance to employers and employees on various topics.

Under the Obama Administration, the DOL stopped issuing Opinion Letters in favor of the more broad “Administrator Interpretations.” Between 2010 and 2016, the DOL only published 11 Administrator Interpretations. Two of these 11 Interpretations were recently rescinded, as we previously reported.…

November election results likely will significantly impact labor and employment law in coming years

Now that it is clear that Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States, questions are continuously being asked about how the regime change when he takes office in January of 2017 will impact labor and employment law. Acknowledging that any discussion of Trump’s policies before he takes office on Jan. 20, 2017 is purely speculation, it is important for employers to consider the potential implications on labor and employment law.…

Decision on whether to block DOL salary basis increase to $47,476 per year expected by Nov. 22

After a hearing in the Eastern District of Texas on a lawsuit by 21 states to enjoin the Department of Labor’s scheduled increase of the minimum salary level for exempt status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal judge hearing the case indicated that he will rule by Nov. 22, 2016. As you know, the rule is set to go into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. For those exempt employees with salaries below $47,476, many employers are weighing whether to implement salary increases up to the new threshold or convert the employees to non-exempt status. Non-exempt status would …

Above the fray: The employer’s how-to guide on navigating the election season

A special thanks to Adam Bennett for his assistance with this article.

Election Day is quickly approaching. Rejoice! There really is a light at the end of the tunnel when the endless stream of attack ads will cease to exist. But before the last ballot is cast, the last precinct closes and the final votes are tallied, employers are sure to have plenty of questions about how to address employees’ political expression in the workplace without violating the law or making any employee feel alienated. To avoid being left with post-election blues, Ohio employers are wise to consider how they …

DOL issues updated required posters for FLSA and EPPA

The federal Department of Labor (DOL) has issued an updated poster for the “Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act” poster, which is a federally required poster. The updated poster adds information on the rights of nursing mothers (to lactation breaks) under the FLSA, misclassification issues related to independent contractors and tip credits. In an effort to move forward with technology, the new poster also includes a scannable QR code which take employees to the DOL website for information on compliance with the FLSA as well as instructions on how to file a complaint. The poster is available here

DOL issues long-anticipated overtime rules—Here are the highlights

Today the Department of Labor (DOL) issued information about the final rules increasing the salary minimum for employees covered by the white-collar FLSA exemptions. While the official rules have not been published yet, here are the key points you need to know:

  1. The new minimum salary level will rise to $47,476 or $913 per week
  2. The annual compensation for highly compensated employees will rise to $134,004
  3. The effective date of the changes is Dec. 1, 2016
  4. The salary and compensation levels will automatically rise every three years
  5. Employers may use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up

Director of human resources may be personally liable for FMLA violations

What an interesting and challenging time to be a human resources professional. There are the day-to-day challenges such as dealing with management needs, trying to support employee morale, keeping an eye on policy enforcement, legal compliance and workplace investigations. The list goes on. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit recently added one more challenge. The Court held that a human resources professional can be held personally liable for her company’s FMLA violations.

The Culinary Institute of America questioned the validity of an employee’s medical support for FMLA time off. In the ensuing communication between company and employee, …

Minimum wage exemptions upheld in Ohio Supreme Court case

A divided Ohio Supreme Court held that Ohio’s minimum wage law exempts employees engaged in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, or as outside salespersons, summer camp employees, fishing employees, small publication employees and family farm employees. In Haight v. Minchak, No. 2016-Ohio-1053, two sales representatives challenged the constitutionality of Ohio’s minimum wage statute (R.C. 4111.14)—arguing that the definition of employee in R.C. 4111.14(B)(1) conflicts with the definition in the Ohio Constitution. The Court held that the definitions did not conflict.

John Haight and Christopher Pence were sales representatives for Cheap Escape Company. They were paid by commissions plus …

Lawyers’ FLSA advice may be discoverable

To avoid an award of liquidated damages in an Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) action asserting that a defendant willfully violated the FLSA’s overtime provisions, the defendant must prove that it “acted in subjective ‘good faith’ and had objectively ‘reasonable grounds’ for believing that the acts or omissions giving rise to the failure did not violate the [statute].” FLSA defendants frequently therefore assert that they sought and followed the advice of counsel in assessing whether overtime payments were required under the FLSA, which results in an implied waiver of the attorney-client and attorney work product privileges. The scope of that …

DOL joins NLRB in making joint employment an enforcement priority

In prior posts (Are you a “joint employer” with your temporary staff supplier? The National Labor Relations Board says “Yes,” and ; NLRB poised to relax standard for establishing joint employment; may mean more union issues in franchising and temporary service worker deals ), we wrote about decisions by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that expand the definition of joint employment and broaden potential liability for violations of the National Labor Relations Act. Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) joined the NLRB in making joint employment an enforcement priority when it issued an Administrator’s Interpretation and …

Seven employment law trends to keep your eyes on for 2016

2016 has arrived, marking the beginning of a year of political transition. While we cannot be certain what the upcoming Presidential election holds for 2017, we can expect to see at least seven employment law trends as we move through this year.

1. Increase in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) initiatives and enforcement

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to the thresholds for exempt status, which will increase the number of employees eligible for minimum wage and overtime payments. In addition, technology advances in the workplace are likely to collide with wage and hour laws with the increased …

DOL memo says most workers are FLSA employees, not independent contractors

Following on the heels of its proposed rule expanding the number of employees entitled to overtime under the FLSA, the Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division has issued an Interpretation Letter that addresses independent contractor misclassification. Though the Letter, issued by WHD Administrator David Weil, contains no earthshaking new compliance obligations for employers, it does suggest that businesses can expect a more aggressive enforcement regime from the Department of Labor on independent contractor issues. In fact, the Letter directly states that “applying the economic realities test in view of the expansive definition of “employ” under the Act, most workers …

Recent decision provides a useful reminder that FLSA exemptions are still “narrowly construed” against the employer

Although we’ve noticed that the U.S. Supreme Court may be taking a more practical approach to interpreting the sometimes-impractical Fair Labor Standards Act, a recent Sixth Circuit decision reminds us that FLSA exemptions are still strictly interpreted by the courts. In Bacon v. Eaton Corp., a group of “front line” supervisors sued their employer under the FLSA. They argued they were misclassified as exempt employees, and as a result of that misclassification, they were entitled to overtime for any workweeks in which they worked more than forty hours. The employer, understandably, argued these employees were properly exempt under the …

Supreme Court interprets meaning of “changing clothes” under FLSA collective bargaining exception

The Supreme Court recently clarified the meaning of “changing clothes” under Section 203(o) of the Fair Labor Standards Act in Sandifer v. United States Steel.  In general, non-exempt employees who spend time “donning” (putting on) and “doffing” (taking off) certain articles of clothing associated with their job must be compensated for that time. Section 203(o) provides an exception to this requirement in the context of collective bargaining—if an employer and the employees’ union agree that employees will not be paid for time spent “changing clothes,” the employer does not have to compensate for that time.

In a unanimous decision, …

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